TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Joel Kotkin on New York’s Declining Middle Class

In today’s New York Daily News, Joel Kotkin writes about the death of New York’s middle class. Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict, recently published by Telos Press, is available for purchase in hardcover format in our online store, as well as in ebook format at (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook).


Adjusting for the cost of living here, the average paycheck in New York is one of the lowest of any major metropolitan area. Put otherwise, working New Yorkers pay a huge premium to live in the five boroughs, one that repels middle-class individuals and families who aren’t compelled to be here.

The exodus of the middle class has been ongoing for 30 years, with New York by one measure now having the second lowest share of middle-income neighborhoods of America’s 100 largest cities. As the middle class has waned, even exemplars of the celebrated creative class—musicians, artists, writers—find the going increasingly rough, and unrewarding. Laments rock icon Patti Smith: “New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling. New York City has been taken away from you.”

This is the dynamic New Yorkers elected de Blasio to fix. And he’s right the reality of rising inequality and, more important, diminishing opportunity, must be confronted.

Critically—and here [Mayor Bill] de Blasio has better instincts than his predecessor—more emphasis needs to be placed on the outer boroughs. Even if Manhattan remains the prototypical luxury city, the rest of New York can be reinvented as a generator of middle-class jobs and opportunities.

Read the full article here.

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